Blue and Gold Illustrated

June-July 2019

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 31 of 55

32 JUNE/JULY 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED developing player. He's really had only one year in the offense." GIANTS LOOK TO LOVE FOR DEFENSIVE BOOST It doesn't take a seasoned scout, coach or executive to know what the New York Giants needed to improve this offseason. After ranking 23rd out of 32 teams in scoring defense and pass defense, and 24th in total de- fense, the Giants needed to address the ability to stop opponents. The club did just that, with seven of their 10 selections coming on de- fense. Love was one of three corner- backs taken in the draft by the or- ganization, joining former Georgia standout Deandre Baker (first round) and Washburn product Corey Ballen- tine (sixth round). A dominant outside cornerback for Notre Dame, where he set program records in passes broken up (38) and passes defensed (44), Love will ini- tially play inside while the Giants figure out his best spot. "Julian Love is a really, really good football player," Giants head coach Pat Shurmur said following the draft. "He can play in the slot. He can play high. "He's got that tweener kind of cor- ner/safety ability, which makes him a unique player for us." Love played both the field and boundary cornerback positions for the Irish the last two years, and at times in 2018 he moved inside to the slot. Yet his best single-game tackle performance (14, with 10 solo) came while playing safety during a 24-17 win over Navy late in the 2017 sea- son. The Giants anticipate using train- ing camp to figure out what Love's role will be. "Initially, you will get him in and teach him a spot," Giants defen- sive coordinator James Bettcher ex- plained. "Early on, it is a really good opportunity for us to get a look at him at a few different places and see maybe where we feel his natural fit is as we move forward. "Naturally, he is a nickel. What is the second position, is he a safety or a corner? Time will tell with that. … You have to be smart and pretty in- telligent like he is to be able to handle that." Despite being taken three rounds later than Baker, at least one draft analyst believes Love could actually be the rookie defensive back who makes the biggest impact. "Don't sleep on Love getting the No. 2 job over Baker," ESPN draft an- alyst Todd McShay stated. "At worst, he should step in and be a strong nickel back, because of his quickness and smooth technique in both man and zone coverage. "His savvy will allow him to settle into James Bettcher's defense fast." WILLIAMS HEADS TO TITLE TOWN The Chargers aren't the lone fran- chise that has a propensity for adding former Notre Dame players in recent seasons. Last season, the Green Bay Packers took former Irish wideout Equanimeous St. Brown in the sixth round of the draft, which came just a month after it traded for former Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer. Green Bay also hired Matt LaFleur as its head coach this offseason. LaF- leur served as Kelly's quarterbacks coach in 2014. The Packers took another former Notre Dame player on offense in the sixth round when they selected run- ning back Dexter Williams. Green Bay ranked 22nd in the NFL in rush- ing offense last season, and running back was a position of need. Williams falling to the sixth round gave the franchise a chance to boost its backfield depth chart with a player it ranked higher on their board. "I was frankly a little surprised he was still there," LaFleur said follow- ing the draft. "He's a one-cut runner, which is exactly what we're looking for in our zone schemes." Williams ran a pedestrian 4.58 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, which could have factored into his drop, but the Packers believe he brings big-play ability beyond the 40 time. The Green Bay Packers drafted a former Irish player in the sixth round for the second year in a row, snagging running back Dexter Williams (above) after landing wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown in 2018. PHOTO COURTESY GREEN BAY PACKERS

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - June-July 2019